UK COVID lending to businesses nears 50 billion pounds

FILE PHOTO: A woman wearing a face mask crosses a bridge in front of One Canada Square in Canary Wharf, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, May 18, 2020. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) - Banks’ lending to businesses under a government-backed COVID-19 loan scheme has risen to almost 50 billion pounds ($64 billion), while the cost of supporting furloughed workers has increased to 31.7 billion pounds, weekly finance ministry figures showed.

Lending across the government’s three main programmes for small, medium and large businesses rose to a total 49.43 billion pounds as of July 26, up from 47.88 billion pounds the week before.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which has supported 9.5 million jobs and is the costliest single government COVID relief measure, has risen to 31.7 billion pounds from 29.8 billion pounds a week earlier.

Reporting by David Milliken, editing by Andy Bruce